Torche - Meanderthal
Record Label: Hydra Head Records
Release Date: April 8, 2008
Because they’ve got the absolute perfect guitar crunch (the result of tuning to drop-N and finding the right amp settings), one gets the impression that pretty much anything Torche plays would sound fucking awesome. It’s the tone and the style that make the album leap out from the speakers. Even an album of 12 covers of “Master of Puppets” would have been just fine, as long as it had that awesome production.
So then the fact that the guys are excellent songwriters comes as icing on the cake (sorry I couldn’t think of a more "metal" phrasing.) They know how to add just the right amount of catchiness to balance out some pretty heavy tunes. Whether it’s a head-nodding groove like “Grenades” or a quicker paced, punkier jam like “Fat Waves,” Meanderthal has got more hooks than a very prepared fisherman, so that simultaneous headbanging/singing is a must at pretty much all times.
The execution is incredibly tight, with all instruments moving together in the exact same footsteps, bringing to mind the stop-on-a-dime precision of groups like the late great CKY. It’s an indestructible formula: you can feel the depth of the riffs in your stomach and the bass is so low it’s almost percussive; the melodically-howled vocals complement perfectly the quick change-ups and frenetic drumming. At no point does the groove let up, either. This is music that commands attention and keeps the listener alert and involved.
Unlike most riffy hard rock groups, Torche inject a certain sense of triumph into their songs. Each one sounds like what you’d want to hear after winning some sort of huge epic battle. Simply put, Torche is like the bright, feel-good-rock answer to the dark creepiness of Mastodon. Both are heavy and epic, but the moods are complete polar opposites.
While hard rock and metal seem to be in a huge decline of creativity, it’s awesome to find a band like this who don’t get caught in the general footholds of modern music (Meshuggah rhythms, cheesy "southern rock" riffing, etc.) Meanderthal warrants multiple listens, because its brand of catchy is the kind that sticks – not subject to the trendy winds of change.